Until a couple of days ago, many that feared the U.S. online poker industry was going to be legislated into extinction during the lame duck session. Recent developments have all but assured no movement on online poker in 2014, and this should be considered a win by the industry.
Immigrantion Reform Stole Sheldon Adelson’s Bill
If you were to read the various analysts out there, you would think that a showdown surrounding RAWA was coming and could possibly result in a “doomsday scenario” for online poker. Then President Obama threatened to exercise his executive authority to ease deportation policies and suddenly RAWA is on the back burner.
Regardless of your opinions on immigration laws in the United States, the issue is actually helping the cause of online poker as it provided an unexpected roadblock to RAWA passage. Hearings have already been scrapped and experts are already claiming that the bill is all but dead.
Republicans are more concerned about stopping the President and avoiding yet another government shutdown than they are about online poker. For once, that works in our favor.
No Chance for Legalization During Lame Duck
While the stalling of RAWA is welcome news for online poker supporters, it also means that there is no chance that an online poker bill will even be introduced during the Lame Duck. Even before the immigration issued heated up, the odds of a bill being introduced were as likely as an Adrian Peterson return to the NFL in 2014.
Soon to be former House Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already admitted that he will work with and compromise with Republicans. This essentially raised a white flag as it pertains to online poker legalization and there hasn’t even been a hint of movement on an online poker bill from the Reid camp.
No News in Lame Duck is Good News for States
While everyone would love a dream scenario where online poker is legalized nationally, that’s not going to happen this year, and likely not in the next couple years at least. However, should RAWA indeed stay on the back burner, this would prove to be a win for state legalization.
While RAWA has some support in Congress, it doesn’t quite have enough support to make it through on its own. An addition to a Lame Duck session bill was the most likely way to get this bill passed this year. If it fails, it’s almost back to square one for Adelson and his Coalition.
A stalled RAWA should serve as a wake-up call for states on the fence regarding online poker legalization, especially California. If these states could move forward with legalization and enter the industry, it would help to bulk it up to the point where supporters and lawmakers could reasonably fight RAWA.
A four to five state industry including California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania would bulk up the industry to the point where they could reasonably argue against killing it. The losses of state tax revenues and the loss of jobs would be at a tangible number that lawmakers could appreciate. It is hard to imagine Republicans killing a job and revenue producing industry in the current economy.
Don’t Dismiss Adelson
While a stalled RAWA is a good thing for the industry, we can agree that Sheldon Adelson and his coalition have proven to be bigger threat than anticipated. Steve Ruddock warned that we should take Adelson seriously and provided several sound points that should be retained.
The ones that we have to remember are that he has the money to spend against online poker and his argument makes sense to those that are not part of the industry. The game we take for granted is looked down upon by the average voter and by many lawmakers. He will continue to use this view against us until we can either prove him otherwise or can present reasons why the industry should live, such as massive state tax revenues and job creation.
We dismissed him at the end of 2013 and a year later, we had to suffer through the biggest sweat since Black Friday. Our industry cannot take him lightly again.